How to start to compose a song?

Song Composition

For many of us who have realised that we have some ability to sing, the following dream is to be able to create our own song. For a majority of music players and performers this is quite often the case. Everyone wants to write a song from the conception stages, then have it formally produced.

It doesn’t matter from which genre it is, deep inside everyone who has an affinity with music wants to hear how a song would sound if they made it themselves. This is mainly owing to how songs have the ability to connect different people from diverse cultures all around the world.

Composing a song successfully has more to do with technical knowledge than anything else. Yes, most people will disagree saying “well, you need the right words, the right mood, and the right feel”. At the end of the day wanting to produce a well-put-together song from the recording studio takes a sizable amount of time.

The time that it will take to do the technical edits will take up more than the time it will take you to put the lyrics of the song together. This is not to take away the credit from songwriters and their hard work, but to emphasize the fact that “the lack of technical skills is what often holds people back when it comes to song production”.

When you start composing a song, you will more than likely hit a multitude of blocks. The result of the finished product will depend mostly on how you approach it from the start. Possessing a sturdy problem-solving mentality is definitely needed to get past these blocks when composing a song.

Generating a worthy idea is the first step of beginning the process of composing a worthy song. Without an solid idea to build upon, it’s hard to write around abstract concepts. Starting with a reliable idea for inspiration to write a song is how it can be composed successfully. Without a genuine idea, the song will start somewhere vague and end somewhere vague. Vision is the key element when it comes to successfully composing a song.

It’s useful to know that composing a song starts with idea generation. But it is even more helpful to understand how the song progresses in every stage of the composition process. In this article, I will walk you through every step of how to compose a song. Let’s get started shall we?

Idea Generation

One of the hardest parts of writing a song is generating the initial idea on which you will base your song. The theme of the song should be determined at this stage. Whatever topic that you choose is going to be the main theme throughout the whole song. All the elements that you will add to the song will also represent the this theme.

This is why most of the time spent in the early developing stages should not be on what the budget is, or who is going to produce the song. It should be spent on the choosing the foundational theme of the song. The theme will ultimately determine the message that you want to convey through the lyrics.

Idea generation is a process where you start brainstorming, and look for a complete message that you want to communicate through the song. Idea generation involves choosing the storyline for the song, and which genre of music it will identify with, this is quite simply the lyrics for the song.

Some people have the potential to complicate the process by writing something that will not work in a particular genre at all. They don’t factor in the rules that are usually followed in song writing and composing. For example, a rap song is harder to perform with a classical piece of music, in comparison to a trap or hip-hop beat with triple timing.

When you are looking for ideas, examine songs that have already implemented a similar idea, and executed it almost perfectly. Make sure you are picking your ideas for a genre with which you can work. When it comes to the first song, a dependable way to prime the process is to start with a chorus and a verse.

Let your first song be simple, but accompanied by a significant message. Don’t make it complicated with multiple verses and interludes. More often than not, something simple will go a long way, and reach people’s hearts. Especially when compared to something that is more complicated. People regularly overlook the current trends in the industry, which is a pity.

They say “just because five artists did it then why should I do it?” Don’t overlook the trends, as the musical tastes of the general population can differ quite considerably from time to time. Musical taste is a personal choice, and you cannot put a label on each one and say that this is what they are going to like.

When it comes to the genre and time signature of music, going with a simple 4/4 beat and any genre that you identify with will be the best option for your first attempt. Try to make your first song as simple as possible, no matter for which genre you want to create music. I repeat, don’t complicate your time signatures for your first song.

For a majority of beginners in the music industry, the first song is where a potential music producer learns about how ear training works and why you should make sure to spend time training your ears musically as a song composer. Going all-in on time signatures will block your ability to improve and learn the whole process of composing a song. It can put additional pressure on you, making you think this whole process of composing a song is just not possible.

Finidng Inspiration 

Finding inspiration from other people’s music is highly underrated. People consider it as if they are stealing a whole song if they gain inspiration by listening to other music. Every song produced is an inspired song in one way or another.

When you look at it in terms of musical theory, every song is going to be within the 8 scales known following a certain chord pattern. Anyone can come up with the same chords again, without even knowing that a song already exists with the same sequence of chords. This explains why on occasion you may hear two songs that have very similar sections that sound quite alike.

The idea generation process will provide you with quite a few clues of where to find inspiration. Once you have a set theme, then the next step is to look for songs that are similar to what you want to compose. Look for inspiration for song writing ideas in all genres of music available, not just one.

When you find these songs in different genres of music on the same theme or style, take your time to analyse what makes them special and what stands out to your ears. Note them down, especially the similarities in each of these songs. Sometimes, it can be musical components like the scales, the tempo, or the chord progressions.  Make sure to note all of them down so you can see the bigger picture of what combination of elements inspire you.

Once you have the ideas written down, in addition to the notes that you have gained from different forms of inspiration, this is when you can find a music producer. You can even locate a recording studio if you don’t have experience with composing music.

At this point, you must ensure that you have written down and refined all of your lyrics. When you find a reputable music producer, keep your lyrics, scale, and other information about the theme and message of the song readily available. This is because of how musicians usually charge their clients.

You will be charged based on how much time you will need to spend with them or in the studio. Wasting time on something that you could have done yourself could turn out to be quite a costly mistake.

When you are writing the lyrics, listen to other songs in the same genre and check for similarities and patterns between them. Sometimes certain genres have an odd form of structure in their songs. If you are unaware of these structures, it may be possible that you could have to rework the composition from the beginning stages and write the song again.

This would be quite a big struggle when it comes to composing your first song. Once you get your ideas generated, and you have ample inspiration, take your time while writing the actual lyrics.

Try to ensure that you are not moving away from the original idea that you first generated. Occasionally, people can make the mistake of allowing for too many compromises to be created in the composition process. This can result in the end product not being able to dignify the original idea that they had in mind.

This is why you should always compare the initial idea that you had to the decisions that you make during the process. Always ask yourself the question; “will this ultimately affect the way the song is going to turn out?” this will eliminate half of the problems you have in making sure the song stays within the theme of the track.

Laying the Bass of the Song 

The first thing that usually gets added to a song is the bass, or sometimes the melody. If you are going with the melody first, this process will be explained after the bass. When you are adding the bass for the first time, you will need to know certain fundamentals about the bass. Bass refers to the lowest frequencies in a song.

This range is usually between 30 to 400 Hz. The instruments that produce the bass include the bass guitar, the double bass, and numerous percussion instruments. Even though there are many instruments that produce bass, the bass guitar is often used in modern-day music.

Unlike other instruments you cannot simply just add the bass to a song and start the song. You need to understand the limitations of the bass beforehand. Bass is used as an element to support the melody. It’s the glue that holds together the treble part of the song to the percussion elements.

Form the notes that you have already gained from your inspiration sessions to find the key with which you want to start. Then carefully add the bass notes according to the overall mood that you want to hold up in the message of the song. If you are working with a music producer, ask him to start with the bass first, and make sure that what he is playing aligns with the mood that you are trying to achieve in your song.

This is a very important foundational part of the production process. Once you have set the basic chords and the music theory of the song, then no matter what you add, the mood cannot be drastically changed. If you have experience in playing other instruments, always make sure that the bass sample used in the song is of high quality.

If you have a mediocre sample, then the result will not sound too good. Starting with a good sample is the key to successful process.

Now and then, you can also start with the drums instead of starting with the bass. Even though the drums portray a smaller portion of how a song is going to ultimately sound, make sure the time signature is simple and it’s easy for you to tell the story of the lyrics. Modern beats may sound intriguing, but they have the potential to set you back when you are trying to perform.

Once you have added the bass, then you can go for a simple drumbeat as a solid layer so that the track can be primed for adding the melody. When you look at different pathways the bass can be added to a song, remember that for some producers it’s the first thing on the list of music production, and for others, it’s the last thing that they will think about.

A great deal of people talk about how to program the bass, but they won’t explain why the bass progressions matter so much in today’s music industry. The number of people who are listening to just the bass is also increasing daily. Nowadays, people are expecting the bass to be more aggressive, for example, like it has been in trap music.

Adding a Melody to the Composition

If you are not starting your song with the bass first, then you have to start with the melody. Melodies are considered the heart of a song. The melody holds quite a bit of weight in terms of what you are wanting to achieve with the song and they partially dictate if a song is going to be successful or not.

They carry a huge amount of value of how the song is going to be perceived by future listeners. A melody has to have a fair amount of appealing characteristics for when it’s added to a composing project.

As a songwriter and composer, you are required to use the melody to tell your story and give your audiences something to connect with and remember. The most evident way to employ a  melody is to use it in your verse, the chorus, and the bridge vocal lines. Instrumental melodies share quite a bit of the responsibility as well.

Don’t feel intimidated when you need to come up with a melody. If you look at the technical aspects of it, the melody is timely arranged sounds in different pitches, but when listening to it to altogether, you perceive it as a single line. A note has a single pitch and duration. However, when you put together multiple notes with different pitches and durations, you would have created a melody.

The best advice to create a melody successfully is to start with a fundamental plan that you write down at the start of the composing project. You have to locate your target scale in which you want to write the song, then follow it with the chords that you want to write into the melodies.

When you have these two things in place, it’s a matter of putting together notes in between the scale and the chords. When you do that you will have an amazing melody that goes along harmoniously with all the other elements of the song.

When adding a melody, the next question you need to ask yourself ; “is it catchy?” A catchy rhythm is just as important as the pitches themselves. If someone can repeat a melody by just hearing it twice, and if it compels them to want to hear it again, then you my friend have created a catchy melody.

It’s not just about the melodies you produce. Even if you have a great melody, if the other elements don’t support the actual song, then you will end up with a great melody that has no use in the overall song.

If you analyse different melodies, they all have a stepwise motion with occasional leaps here and there. When you have a melody that is skipping multiple notes at once, then it will be harder to remember and harder to sing.

Making sure to have a good balance between note skips, as well as a stepwise motion, you will more than likely have a good melody. If this is the end stage of the process, you will have to pay attention to ensure that the melody works well with the baseline.

If the baseline and the melody do not go well together, then you will start to hear dis-chords with the other elements. The catchy part of a song is usually referred to as the “hook”. It’s the part that pulls the listener towards the song. It can be either a lyrical line or even a small instrumental lead piece.

Structuring the Song 

Everybody grows up singing songs. What we don’t realize when we are singing these songs, is the actual structure. Before you structure your song, you have to understand the basic terms that are used in creating a successful song to check whether you are ensuing to construct it properly in terms of how it is built.

Usually, this process takes place in the arrangement session of the music production process. Knowing the typical song layout will help songwriters create their masterpieces. The basic, most common song structure consists of an intro, a verse, a pre-chorus, a chorus, and a bridge. Occasionally, some parts of the song are blended together to represented another structure.

The intro is the start of the song. It is a crucial part that has to have something that catches the attention of the listeners. In today’s fast-paced world, people’s attention spans can be quite short. Not many people are attentive enough to listen to a song for longer than 20 seconds if it doesn’t have something interesting to capture their ears and their attention.

The intro does a great deal for the song overall. It establishes many of the musical elements for the song, starting with the key, the tempo, the rhythmic feel, and the energy. Nowadays intros are just four bars, sometimes even less, so that the listener doesn’t end up getting bored waiting for the vocals to start.

The type of music that was composed 8 years ago had at least 5 minutes of playtime. Nowadays being able to find music with at least 2 minutes of playtime is a miracle.

The next portion of the song is the verse. This is where you will be able demonstrate whether your song holds quality listening value. This is also where you have the opportunity to prove that the time spent listening to the song’s intro was worth it. Usually, a song will have multiple verses that create a clear picture of the message that a songwriter wants to convey to their listeners.

The story or the message is built part by part on each verse. As a listener goes through each verse he is able to gain more information about the message of the story. Always make sure a verse is not over 40 seconds long. The ideal length of a song used to be 1 minute, showing that the duration has decreased considerably in the last 5 years.

The pre-chorus and the chorus are two sections of a song that are not necessary used to convey a message. They are more about sprinkling flavour onto the song. This precious part has greatly evolved in the last 8 years, and is made to create an excitement for the following chorus.

The chorus is the big payoff, and is considered the climax of a song. Here everything within the song is simplified and the nature of its meaning is conveyed to the listener. If there is a repeated portion of a song, it would be in the chorus and the pre-chorus sections.

Here the chorus bridge acts a section of the song that provides relief from an overly repetitive nature. Not all songs have a bridge, quite simply this is because not all songs need a bridge. It’s usually written to break a chord, or to break a pattern that goes on throughout the song.

Can Anyone Write a Song?

Yes, anyone can write a song. How much time they have, and how much they have for their budget to produce the song is different story altogether. In general, people that are successful songwriters allow their emotions to flow throughout their songs. For this reason, many songs are able to bring people together in times of crisis.

These sorts of perspectives work together in making people write songs naturally based on the mood of their environment, situations they find themselves in, and quite often the universal need of the hour. Most songwriters who are successful today are just people who experimented with thinking from these vantage points and work them into their songs.

How do you Write a Song for the First Time?

Ensure to write a song that is based on something with which you closely associated yourself. This can be an emotion, a situation, or a struggle that you have been through, or are going though in your life. These things can have the potential to provide profound meaning and movement to a song when compared to a generic or shallow song writing process.

Taking real-life examples and forming them into song, has the ability to connect diverse varieties of people on different levels. Certain songs have become so popular purely as a result of how much they are able to connect different people.

Is it Hard to Compose a Song?

Yes and No. If you are someone who has had a small amount of experience with music, then you will not have a hard time composing a song. If you are someone who hasn’t even tried to play an instrument, then it will be a harder process for you to compose a song.

The best way to make this process easier is to find a producer who has already gained quite a bit of experience in composing songs successfully. This can assist you by reducing a massive amount of time and stress that can be involved while composing a song.

What are the 3 Parts of a Song?

The intro, the bridge, and the outro are the three main parts of a song. These parts may differ in their names, depending on the genre of music. Generally, more attention is given to the detail of the bridge section of the song. This is the part of the song where all of the elements are lined up together. Some songs may creatively employ other areas to engage with the audience through different forms of arrangement.

How can I Create my own Song?

Creating your own song starts with idea generation, and then expanding the idea by putting together a musical composition that works alongside it. If you are not a trained music composer, you may want to get help from a notable music producer to assist you with putting your song together.

On the other hand, learning how to write a song and perform it can be enough if you are not intending to perform or release it commercially.

How do I Copyright a Song?

You can copyright a song by applying to the copyright associated with the identification code given by the distribution company for your album or song. Once your song has been identified as a product, it’s given a unique code. This code will be of assistance if you run into problems or find yourself in trouble as a result of any potential copyright issues.


Composing a song not only brings joy to yourself and others, it’s also heavily therapeutic to release your creativity into the world. If you have never been involved with music production or anything with regards to music, even with minimal interest, I would advise you to get in touch with a music producer and begin to produce a song together.

Most music producers are happy to show you the ropes of song production and how the process works. This will also boost your confidence and take away the fears of getting stuck somewhere along the journey.

Taking-up music as a hobby or even pursuing it as a serious career will open up your mind to different perspectives in life that you wouldn’t have normally thought about. Composing a full song from the start to the finish as a newbie takes a considerable amount of effort and determination.

My final words of advice are to ensure that you always have a checklist of which stage you are in, and analyse how you can potentially progress to the following phase. This will help you to successfully finish the project without too many discouraging issues.

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